5. San Juan Islands
In the north of the Puget Sound, and close to British Columbia, you’ll find the San Juan Islands. Despite proximity to Canada, they belong to the United States, and to Washington State in particular. The San Juan Islands are an inviting retreat and an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, offering an abundance of outdoor activities in a stunning landscape. You can kayak in the water, take tours to spot Orca Whales in their natural habitats, dine on fresh seafood or hike through the San Juan Island National Historical Park. Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor are the two hubs for dining, shopping and sightseeing, and they also offer some commercial flights, boat arrivals and museums.
4. Olympic National Park
To see a lush green rain forest and a rugged mountain range in a single destination, try the Olympic National Park. One of the highlights of a visit to the Olympic National Park is the Hoh Rain Forest, where you can see herds of elk roaming the landscape or you can set off on a challenging hike to the summit of Mt. Olympus. For a less strenuous adventure, admire the summer wildflowers of Hurricane Ridge or walk among bluffs and sea caves in Cape Flattery. Clear blue water and stunning scenery awaits in the park’s Lake Crescent, and some of the most amazing views you can see straight from your car are found along the road known as the Coastal Strip.
3. Mount St.. Helens National Volcanic Monument
In Southwest Washington is the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, a destination that marks the site of the volcanic eruption in 1980. Accessible from Seattle on a day trip, but also the perfect place to spend a few nights, Mount St. Helens boasts a number of interesting and scenic attractions for visitors. Don’t miss the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake, where you can get a brief history of the region and the 1980 eruption, or head to the Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center for tours as well as dining options with the a view of the volcano. The Johnston Ridge Observatory boasts spectacular vantage points of the north side of Mount St. Helens as well as an extensive visitor center.
Occupying a narrow isthmus between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, Seattle is a beautiful city and among the most popular places to visit in Washington. The largest city in the Pacific Northwest might be best known for Starbucks, but there is a lot more that Seattle has to offer. Downtown, stop in at Pike Market for fresh produce and fish caught that morning. Experience the culture of the city at the Experience Music Project, an incredible museum devoted to music, movies and pop culture. Head to the Space Needle for views over the city and across the Puget Sound, or walk around Green Lake for some fresh air and a glimpse at local life in Seattle.
1. Mount Rainier National Park
Less than an hour’s drive outside of Seattle is Mount Rainier National Park, which is focused on the towering peak of Mount Rainier itself, the highest mountain in Washington. This incredible park is a popular destination to visit throughout the year, but snowy weather limits access to some areas. At the Paradise section of the park, you’ll see fields of colorful wildflowers and excellent hiking trails. In the Sunrise section, you can drive to the highest vantage point in the park for truly spectacular views. Mountaineering and glacier climbing are two recreation options in the park, but Mount Rainier also offers easier hikes. Green Lake Trail, for instance, takes just over an hour and brings hikers through old growth forest and waterfalls.